Examines methods for authentically simulating workplace conditions in classroom-based training in soft skills.

“There are three common methods for creating opportunities for experiential learning of soft skills. One is interactive teaching, through which instructors facilitate exercises that provide opportunities for experience, practice, reinforcement, and reflection. A system of spiraling teachable moments that progresses to increasingly more difficult soft-skill tasks reinforces the learning while building the repertoire of skills. This approach requires skilled instructors and a well-designed curriculum, but has the disadvantage that the exercises, no matter how well designed, lack the authenticity of the real workplace.

The second method for teaching soft skills experientially is to use a coach in a workplace setting. On-the-job training work experience, internships, and work-study programs are all examples of teaching both hard (technical) and soft skills in the workplace in a manner that achieves optimal authenticity. The disadvantage of this method is the difficulty of finding employers who will provide both opportunities and a qualified coach to assure that learning takes precedence over workplace productivity.

The third method is to alter aspects of the classroom setting where general education or hard skills are being taught to workforce entrants so that the classroom simulates the workplace. This approach provides an authentic context for teaching and practicing soft skills that entails minimal costs and effort, affords the teacher control over the teaching agenda, and creates a classroom environment that benefits from the improved soft skills of its students…This approach for teaching soft skills can be universally applied to have maximum impact on soft-skill deficits among our youth without new legislation, additional money, or new players. It just requires knowing how” (p.1-2). (Abstractor: Author)